Ruth Brown

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Ruth Brown (January 30, 1928 – November 17, 2006) was an American pop and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, composer and actress noted for bringing a pop music style to R&B music in a series of hit songs for Atlantic Records in the 1950s, such as "So Long", "Teardrops from My Eyes" and "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean". For these contributions, Atlantic became known as "The house that Ruth built" (alluding to the popular nickname for Old Yankee Stadium).

Following a resurgence that began in the mid-1970s and peaked in the eighties, Brown used her influence to press for musicians' rights regarding royalties and contracts, which led to the founding of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.[1] Her performances in the Broadway musical Black and Blue earned Brown a Tony Award, and the original cast recording won a Grammy Award.


Early life

Born Ruth Alston Weston in Portsmouth, Virginia, she attended I. C. Norcom High School, a historically black high school. Brown's father was a dockhand who directed the local church choir, but the young Ruth showed more of an interest in singing at USO shows and nightclubs. She was inspired by Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington.[2] In 1945, Brown ran away from her home in Portsmouth along with trumpeter, Jimmy Brown, whom she soon married, to sing in bars and clubs. She then spent a month with Lucky Millinder's orchestra, but was fired after she brought drinks to the band for free, and was left stranded in Washington, D.C.[citation needed]

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